A person involved in co-dependency forms an unhealthy relationship with a person who
is addicted. The addiction can be to a variety of things: Drugs, alcohol, work, relationships, food,
sex and gambling. The relationship could be with a person who is mentally or chronically ill
instead of addicted. A co-dependent may be a spouse, sibling, child, parent, friend, co-worker or
person living with the ill or addicted person and focuses on them. They have good intentions.
They try to take care of a person who is experiencing difficulty, the caretaking becomes
compulsive and defeating. Co-dependents often take a martyrs role and become “benefactors” to
an individual in need (Mental Health America 2008). Almost all of a co-dependent’s attention
and energy is focused on the ill or addicted person and they develop behaviors to detach
themselves, deny their feelings, and deny themselves a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship.
Co-dependency is a disease that, left untreated, can lead to other addictions such as eating
disorders, substance dependence, workaholism, and compulsive spending
(LavickM.D.Ed.,V.1998) The main common denominator defining co-dependency is having a
relationship, whether it a personal one or professional, with a dependent person who is troubled,
addicted, or ill.
Co-dependency probably has existed throughout history but didn’t have recognition as a
disease. Co-dependency began to be recognized when Alcoholics Anonymous was formed.
Alcoholics had a 12 step program to help with recovery and it worked for the alcoholics. This
left their wives and families to recover without help. Counselors recognized something happened
to those close to the Alcoholics and so did the wives. The wives also wanted a program. So they
used A.A. 12 step program, revised the A.A. 12 Traditions, changed its name to Al-Anon, and it
worked. Millions of people have since benefited from...